Irish Footballers that Played for Manchester United - Tommy Breen
Tommy Breen - Introduction
Tommy Breen from Drogheda, Co. Louth was born on 27 April 1912. Breen was a goalkeeper and he played for Newry Town and Belfast Celtic before he went to England. He played for both Irish national teams winning 9 IFA caps and 5 FAI caps. Thomas Breen has been described as one of the outstanding keepers in the history of Irish football. Breen signed for Manchester United in November 1936. Walter Crickmer was the United manager at the time.
Tommy Breen & Manchester United
Tommy Breen made his Manchester United debut on 28 November 1936 against Leeds United. Breen conceded two goals as Leeds beat Manchester 2 - 1. Breen retained his place in the starting eleven for the rest of the 1936/37 season. It wasn't until his fifth match that he kept a clean sheet, at Old Trafford in a 1 - 0 win over Bolton Wanderers. It was a poor season for the club and Manchester United were relegated to the Second Division.
United and Tommy Breen were promoted at the first attempt in the 1937/38 season. Breen made 37 appearances that season including 33 in the League and seven clean sheets.
With increased pressure from the other Manchester United goalkeepers Breen's appearances back in the First Division were limited to just six in the 1938/39 season. Tommy Breen's last match for Manchester United was on 1 April 1939 against Huddersfield Town at Leeds Road in a 1 - 1 draw. The outbreak of World War II meant the suspension of top flight English football. As a result Breen returned to Northern Ireland and played for Belfast Celtic and Linfield as a guest.
After the war Manchester United came looking for Tommy Breen to return to Old Trafford. He was reluctant to return and Linfield would not pay the £1,000 transfer fee that United were demanding. Breen stepped through the transfer 'back door' and signed for Shamrock Rovers in Dublin for nothing and thus Tommy Breen's career with Manchester United finally ended.
Tommy Breen - International Career
Tommy Breen played for both Ireland teams as both football associations - IFA and FAI - laid claim to all players regardless of what side of the border they were born. Breen made his debut for Northern Ireland on 6 February 1935 in a 2-1 loss against England. His record for Northern Ireland reads: Won 0; Drew 1; Lost 8 and he did not manage to keep any clean sheets.
Tommy Breen - First Manchester United to Play for Ireland
In contrast, Tommy Breen became the first goalkeeper to keep consecutive clean sheets for the FAI Ireland team. He made his Irish debut against Switzerland on 17 May 1937. The Irish won 1 - 0 through a Jimmy Dunne goal after 30 minutes. Breen played his second match for Ireland six days later in Paris as the Irish beat France 2-0. He saved a penalty from Lauri just 12 minutes into the match.
Breen was suspended by the FAI because he declined to play in a World Cup qualifier in October 1937 in favour of playing for the IFA against England. Tommy Breen resumed his FAI international career in September 1946 at Dalymount Park against England. He played a further two matches for Ireland. All of his matches for the FAI Ireland were friendlies and his record reads: Won 2; Drew 0; Lost 3.
Tommy Breen was the first player from Manchester United to play for the FAI's Ireland.
Tommy Breen - Manchester United & Ireland Statistics
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